The Newton Letter

The Newton Letter An historian on the brink of completing a book on Isaac Newton rents a cottage in southern Ireland for the summer As the summer wears on and he dissects Newton s mental collapse of he becomes d

  • Title: The Newton Letter
  • Author: John Banville
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 267
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • An historian, on the brink of completing a book on Isaac Newton, rents a cottage in southern Ireland for the summer As the summer wears on and he dissects Newton s mental collapse of 1693 he becomes distracted by the mysterious occupants of Fern House and finds himself constructing their imagined histories to powerful effect His elaborate attempts to decipher the complexAn historian, on the brink of completing a book on Isaac Newton, rents a cottage in southern Ireland for the summer As the summer wears on and he dissects Newton s mental collapse of 1693 he becomes distracted by the mysterious occupants of Fern House and finds himself constructing their imagined histories to powerful effect His elaborate attempts to decipher the complex web of relationships are, however, far from accurate .

    One thought on “The Newton Letter”

    1. Practically flawless, this taut tale is all about knowing that you know very little after all. And that some laws of nature are not fixed: the human element messes everything up. And elevates it.Here, a master of beautiful, careful prose. Contender for my favorite novel of this year (2015).

    2. I'd assumed this would be a historical novel following on from Banville's Doctor Copernicus and Kepler, but it proved to be a novella set in the modern day (well, the mid-1980s).A historian is blocked towards the end of his chunky biography of Isaac Newton, the sticking point being the unexplained nervous breakdown that Newton suffered relatively late in life. Our hero rents a cottage for the summer in the grounds of a ramshackle house in the countryside in hopes that the solitude will force him [...]

    3. Excellent, masterful, startlingly precise.Banville's art, to speak superficially at first with reference to language and to style, which of course find their origin in the sentence, its structure, namely, which is shaped by punctuation on the one hand, a paucity lending a staccato-like rushedness and an abundance, on the other, tainting the writing baroque, overwrought, excessive-- Banville's prose is almost surgical, but warms to escape the frigid expanse that Nabokov's writing so often inhabit [...]

    4. The blurb on the jacket sums it up: this is a great Banville primer for those unfamiliar. The character quirks, the sardonic humor, the beautiful prose, it's all there in around 100 pages. Because it's around 100 pages, though, this is a piece that tends to skim through a lot of character development and narrative events, choosing instead to sum it up in tone and atmosphere. A fantastic read for style alone, but not as fulfilling as some of Banville's lengthier efforts.

    5. THE NEWTON LETTER. (U.S. ed. 1987). John Banville. ****. This is Banville’s third novel dealing with iconic astronomers, this time Isaac Newton. It is the story of a writer who has taken up residence at a cottage on a large farm in Ireland where he expects to find the quiet and solitude needed to finish his great novel on Newton. This short book is in the form of a letter to a friend of his explaining why he can no longer finish the book. The main reason for this is that he has gotten involved [...]

    6. I've read a number of novels by John Banville, a world-class Irish writer, whom I would nominate for a Novel Prize (though it was sweet to see Dylan get in this year), but I was wholly unaware of his early series of fictions based on central scientific and mathematical figures. "The Newton Letter" was published back in the 1980s, and since I am reading this so-called 'trilogy' out of order, I have no context in which to place. Standing completely on its own, it's another beautiful piece of writi [...]

    7. A novella that beguiles and keeps its distance, The Newton Letter reflects on (as well as enacts) the tension, slippage, and oscillation between intimacy and unknowability, things and thoughts, the world and words.(She hesitates, then adds: That sentence may have said nothing; or maybe it's said everything?)

    8. The review over at my blog: readingaroundtheglobe.tumblr.c To be utterly honest, I hadn’t heard of John Banville till I came across a tome of his books at a local bookstore that happened to be clearing out their stock at half-price. I grabbed an armful of books that day and picked two by Banville, going purely by the descriptions on the back. I got The Newton Letter and Mefisto, easily missing his most famous and award-winning title The Sea (of which I now recall, with the retrospective clarit [...]

    9. First of all, , six pounds forty is an absolute piss take for a Kindle novella of just over 100 pages. If it were anybody other than John Banville I'd say that was impossible to justify but as always with this writer there is more beautiful, lyrical prose crammed into those 100 pages than most authors manage in a lifetime. A concise, perfectly formed piece of brilliance.

    10. A nice, tidy little novel of ideas. This one had the deserves-to-be-savoured prose that has become my main reason for reading Banville, but also, unusually for Banville, had some moments of humor reminiscent of Amis."Outside the kitchen windows the chestnut tree murmured softly in its green dreaming. The afternoon had begun to wane.""He carries his satchel like a hunchback's hump""He brooded a moment, frowning, and the blue of the Dardanelles bloomed briefly in his doomy eyes. I watched the hawk [...]

    11. Such an odd, fleeting novel(la) It reminds me of Coetzee's Disgrace or some sort of Ethan Frome- Gatsby hybrid That is to say, I can't quite nail it down. So very strange a tale indeed. Ah! But the language! Oh the cauldron of words!

    12. Slim novella. Banville's prose is exquisite as always. Made me realize why I love Banville so much. Need to read all his books some day (this is my third book of his). Beautiful book by one of my favourite authors.

    13. Rather reminiscent of Edna O'Brien, this un-named narrator rents a dilapidated lodge in rural Ireland in order to work on his book and try to decipher a letter of Isaac Newton.He becomes drawn into the family who live in the big house, starting an affair with Ottilie whilst lusting after married Charlotte. His work dwindles to a halt as he becomes more entangled with them.Apparently the third book in a trilogy, though the previous two I believe were set in Newton's time, so I didn't feel I'd mis [...]

    14. just your typical Banville beauty in a tight but sprawling novella his turns of phrase and use of the language is unrivaled i love how he drops little factoids in his texts, like he's dripping out bits of real world wisdom through his fictional self a meandering tale that plays on seeing what you want, or making what you see into what you want, or wanting want you think you see

    15. 내가 좋아하는 느낌의 책. 존 벤빌 더 읽어봐야지, 80페이지는 넘 짧았다,게다가 내가 본 프랑수아 오종의 영화 ‘스위밍풀’이랑 묘하게 비슷한 스토리라인과 분위기. 물론 화자가 여기선 남자라는 것.

    16. There are writers who are so good that I find it a relief to read their work, because my petty jealousies simply fall aside, like blades of grass before a Massy Ferguson.Banville is one of them. He's a writer whose style is what I think of as writerly, a gobsmackingly inadequate term I know but one I haven't yet bettered. What I mean by it is that way certain writers have of trying to be, I guess, literary, by going overboard in selecting unusual words, overusing metaphor, or shoehorning in obse [...]

    17. This well-written novella reminds me of one of those bland but well-acted English films that take place in the countryside, in which tweedy villagers live lives of quiet desperation. In fact, I'm surprised it hasn't already been turned into a movie by someone like Stephen Frears. The book also reminds me a bit of Julian Barnes's The Sense of an Ending in that the narrator's understanding of what's going on around him is incorrect--except that in this case what he imagines is going on is more mel [...]

    18. I don't like the men in Banville's novels, generally. However, his writing is so very seductive and this little novella was simply delicious.

    19. Did you ever had the feeling that everything is different? Standing before this new experience where you realize that everything you know is just a smooth stone on a beach before an endless ocean. If you know this feeling it won't be hard to sympathize with the nameless historian in John Banville's Newtons Letter. On the other hand, the author does a good job in showing this emotion of disengagement. We meet this historian when he is renting a cottage to write the final chapter of his study of s [...]

    20. Now this is Banville. I was expecting another literary biography ala Copernicus or Kepler; instead I found myself back in contemporary Ireland with another of Banville's self-hating narrators chronicling the past. I expected to see a slow movement from the previous novels to his current style, but instead found a 35 year old novel that could pass as his latest without anyone batting an eye. The prose, the tone, the characters, it's all here and it's glorious.I'm curious about the genesis of this [...]

    21. This is such a peculiar little book, not in and of itself, but because it is the third in a trilogy dealing with great historical scientists and their world-changing discoveries, and yet Isaac Newton barely features. The narrator is writing, and has abandoned near completion, a book about the physicist, but there is only one real direct exploration of Newton, via two letters written during or as a result of a nervous breakdown, and one of those letters is fictional. Instead, we have an odd littl [...]

    22. Besotting. Inside from the spring light and the cold air, as your heart beats too hard and you eye the edge of a blouse, the full curve of the girl inside it, you think about your affairs, the women whose promises were low and secret, the disappointments, and the disappointings, and which of those you had not created. The novel here you see and inhabit, can submit to, as to a beguiling girl -- you make it sound as if it were an effort at all. The book calls to afternoons too bright for falsehood [...]

    23. When I read anything by John Banville I find myself mesmerised just by the skill and depth of his writing. This short novel did not disappoint and has Banville, as always, mixing his astute observations with simple, almost philosophical conclusions drawn; 'There was no sense of life messily making itself from moment to moment. It had all been lived already, and we were merely tracing the set patterns, as if not living but remembering'. I think this was a very good novel that could have been a gr [...]

    24. I'm very fond of Banville's writing, and I've liked many of his books, but this one is his best, I think. It is quite a short novel.There are lovely little allusions to Newton's life in the book - for example, when the main character meets his love interest it is when she comes carrying a boy who has fallen out of a tree and landed on his head. Just lovely. Banville often captures something terribly human about our relationships - one of the things I remember most from this book is the main char [...]

    25. An author rents a cottage on an estate in Ireland to finish writing his book on Isaac Newton, and instead becomes obsessed with a family living in the big house. His obsession leads him to imagine lives for the members of the family that are a far cry from the truth. It's a beautifully written narrative of a man's thoughts and the motivation that propels his actions and inaction. There were moments when I could not like the man, and moments when I sympathized with him. The ending was disquieting [...]

    26. Banville scrive bene, cattura con le sue atmosfere ovattate, ma non posso perdonargli di aver maltrattato così Ottilia, immagine che per Goethe era l'emblema dell 'amore sublimato nei sentimenti e nell'emotività mentre qui incarna una ragazza pratica reale e grossolana. Forse vuole vendicarsi dei personaggi delle Affinità Elettive, attratto da quel gruppetto un po' snob, romantico e affascinante di cui il protagonista vorrebbe far parte.

    27. I'm not a huge Banville fan - for me, his prose has a kind of airless perfection and little or no emotional range - but I liked this story, maybe because the central character ultimately ends up a victim of his own pretensions. A historian finishing an important work in a remote cottage, he finds himself identifying with a local Anglo-Irish family, only to discover things are not necessarily what they seem.

    28. Banville's prose is gorgeous, and I find I read him for that rather than the stories he writes. Learned of this one from a Wall St Journal review of best love triangles stories. Enthralling story of a writer renting a cottage where he falls for the niece, than the aunt, but has an affair with only one of them Very short (80 pages) and worth it for the quality. Not sure if it would be a twice the pages.

    29. This is the first book that I have read by John Banville. It was a very short book and it seemed a little vague to me. This book leads one to believe that the book is about Isaac Newton but he is only mentioned and not really the focus of the book. That being said, I look forward to reading another of his books in order to compare the writing with this one as I feel this is not one of his best books.

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